By Ali G. Macabalang
Hardened supporters of leading Presidential bets in the 2022 elections continue to assert intensely the potential of their respective candidates in social media avenues I moderate, indicating no chance for them to change stand or shift loyalty.
The stalemate is obvious. In the Mindanao Tapatan Lane, a public Facebook group I administer, some of them even malign one another. I’m not spared from the cursing by some who misperceived me to be biased in asking: “What good has BBM done for the nation, particularly the Bangsamoro?”
Last Dec. 2, I opened a dialog via zoom for supporters of Presidential candidates to ventilate their arguments. Only four people joined – Naguib Munder, an elderly Marananao compatriot nominating BBM; Malaysian lady friend Hazel, who observed from their embassy in Manila; and Erl Denver and Nobaisha, who I believe are also Maranaos who just listened without mentioning their preferred candidates.
I talked first in the dialog, explaining that I have not officially chosen yet a Presidential aspirant to back and campaign for in due time. I said the Mindanao Tapatan Lane and other social media avenues I administer are meant to provide the public as much information as they need about current issues, including the choice for elected officials.
Among the leading Presidential wannabes, I have knowledge about some things the four of them – Ping, Leni, Isko and Pacman have tangibly done for the Bangsamoro, except for BBM. Thus, I boldly floated the question: What good has BBM done for the Bangsamoro? In the Tapatan Lane, nobody had replied categorically yet. I explained again my point that in due time, I would be writing stories about Presidential candidates and I need data.
I envisioned stories I hope will educate voters about the candidates and be able to choose rationally, not on the basis of popularity but for their propriety as a key to gaining assured solutions to the age-old ills among Muslim Filipinos.
Durin g the dialog, I asked the three participants (except Hazel who was just observing) to talk about their nominees in the Presidential race. Only Mr. Munder spoke up. I attentively listened as he narrated mostly legislative records of BBM in resolutions and bills concerning national interests, indirectly benefiting the Bangsamoro. I did not dispute any of his claims.
Because of the absence of other supporters to speak about the other candidates, I just suggested holding another virtual dialog and ensuring that other speakers for the other candidates would join. The intent is not for a debate but for us to take noter of the campaign promises of candidates and record them for use after the 2022 elections. Munder gladly welcomed the idea and even assured to help invite other speakers.
Rationale: We have agreed that all campaign promises of candidates will be enumerated and recorded, with all the speakers keeping such records. Whoever comes out victorious in the Presidential race, his/her speaker in the dialog shall be tasked to persuade staunchly in whatever way for the fulfillment of the promises for the Bangsamoro.
This concept, therefore, necessitates the formation of an association of the pool of dialog speakers. Tentatively, we can call it Mamamayang Nagmamalasakit sa Bangsamoro (MNB). The name may be changed collectively.
I will set another dialog soon for speakers and observers to set into motion the concept. Unlimited hours of zoom link will be provided by the Bangsamoro Press Corps (BPC) as a moderating entity aiming to prod the next President’s administration to make good the campaign commitments.
It should be noted that the role of the next President in the preservation and implementation of peace agreements, which led to the formation of the creation of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and its infant governance.
I am anxious that national officials, who may work contrary to the intents of the peace agreements, will not only make the lives-taking enabling efforts futile but also spark more troubles. Can you imagine sidelining or abolishing the BARMM structure that will disgruntled MILF and MNLF forces now running the interim governance? We certainly cannot afford to see these revolutionary fronts returning to the hills and renewing rebellious activities.
Meanwhile, I received lately via Messenger some photos showing BBM, Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra and former DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman visiting the war-torn city’s ground zero. I called up my friend Nasser to inquire about the date of BBM’s visit. He said the visit happened when he was mayor of Masiu and it was in 2018.
Ostensibly, the photos were sent as an indirect answer to my question: What good BBM has done for the nation, particularly the Bangsamoro?
Ex-Sec. Pangandaman said he belongs to the national executive committee of the Lakas-NUCSD Party, one of some parties that coalesced to back up BBM in the 2022 elections. Of course, I know that he has a big heart for the Marcos family, especially the late FEM who was a close ally of the late dad – ex-ambassador and ARMM governor Lindy.
In closing, I fervently hope I shall be able to achieve success in executing the concept of forming a group such as the MNB to help ensure that the plight of the BARMM government would not be undermined. Ameen.